Dildo, Newfoundland

The strangest place names in Canada

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From sea to sea, Canada is the second largest country by land mass. According to Canadian Immigration, Ontario alone has 444 individually named towns and cities, which means that when judging “strangest names,” we have a lot to work with. With a history rooted in Aboriginal and French culture, these odd names generally honour one of a few categories: food and drink, human or animal anatomy, and even sexual innuendo. When scouring the names of our landmarks, towns, cities, and bodies of water, there is no shortage of off- or strange-sounding names, though it has to be mentioned that the East Coast and Newfoundland are home to some of the weirdest.

Dildo, Newfoundland and Labrador
A quick Google search of either “Dildo” or “weirdest place names” quickly (and thankfully) brings up this location in Northwestern Newfoundland every time. Dildo rarely goes unmentioned as one of the strangest, raunchiest, and most unfortunate place names worldwide. Historically, it is noted that the origin of the word “dildo” itself is not known, so finding the roots of the moniker proves difficult, though the less than 1,200 residents (known as Dildoians) don’t seem to mind.

Ball’s Falls, Ontario
In the early 19th century, brothers John and George Ball were issued 1,200 acres of Crown Land in the Niagara Region for their loyalty to the British Crown. The land, which is now a Conservation Area, was presumably named at a time when puns and innuendo were less widespread. Ball’s Falls is now considered part of Jordan, Ontario, and features two waterfalls (the upper is 90 feet high), as well as historical domestic and industrial buildings, including the original Ball house.

Happy Adventure, Newfoundland and Labrador

Happy Adventure, Newfoundland
Photo courtesy of celebratecanada.wordpress.com

Arguably one of the most optimistic place names in Canada, Happy Adventure is just too good to resist. Imagine you’re north of St. John’s, cruising along the coast, when you see a sign indicating that you’re headed toward a “Happy Adventure.” The origin of the name is unknown, though apparently local tales suggest that the community was named after a 17th-century pirate’s ship.

Vulcan, Alberta
The town of Vulcan was named 56 years before the first regular episode of Star Trek aired in 1966, which would go on to define Vulcan in sci-fi popular culture as an “extraterrestrial humanoid species” (popular character Spock was a human-Vulcan hybrid). Since then, the town of approximately 2,000 citizens, just south of Calgary, has fully embraced Trekkie culture, becoming a worldwide tourist destination. Vulcan hosts an annual convention, has erected a tourist museum, has a replica of the starship Enterprise, and even adopted the Star Trek logo as their own. 

Punkeydoodles Corners, Ontario
Punkeydoodles Corners is a hamlet that sits at the intersection of the Waterloo Region, Oxford County, and Perth County boundaries in Southwestern Ontario. Punkeydoodles Corners is also one of the only names on this list that doesn’t feature a real—or otherwise used—word (though we also love Goobies, Newfoundland). Internet commentary suggests that the origin of the name is contested, but the Waterloo Region Museum says that the corner used to have a tavern where a German keeper would sing “Punkey Doodle,” his accented version of “Yankee Doodle.”

Sober Island, Nova Scotia
I don’t know about you, but I can’t read anything other than “Shutter Island” in this title, and for a Canadian (and an East Coaster at that!) Sober Island might be scarier—just kidding! Sober Island is a remote community in the Bay of Islands on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia. The waters are known for their oysters and the shores are exactly what you would picture when thinking of East Coast charm.

Swastika, Ontario

Swastika, Ontario
Photo courtesy of travel.ca.msn.com

A history refresher: the swastika symbol literally meant “good luck” for thousands of years before Hitler started using it as the symbol for his Third Reich army. Swastika, a small community in Northern Ontario near Kirkland Lake, was named decades prior in 1907. When the provincial government attempted to change the name in 1940 (as they also changed Berlin, Ontario, to Kitchener in World War One), the town resisted, even tearing down the newly placed Winston sign and replacing it with a sign that read, “To Hell with Hitler. We had the swastika first.”

Spread Eagle Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador
Canada loves its innuendo-laden geography, particularly in the provinces of Newfoundland, Ontario, and Saskatchewan Spread Eagle is a natural bay off the east coast of Newfoundland. Some particularly innuendo-laden Newfie locations that didn’t make the list include Conception Bay, Blow Me Down Provincial Park, Come By Chance, Tickle Cove, Ass Rock, and Ass Hill.

Bacon Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador
Unfortunately, this lush, rocky cove off the coast of Central Newfoundland is not made of bacon. Bacon Cove is a fishing and farming settlement that was last recorded with less than 150 citizens. There are few things that are defined as quintessentially Canadian (poutine, plaid, hockey), but bacon is definitely one. Not surprisingly, Canada has an abundance of communities, towns, lakes, and villages dedicated to our love of food, and particularly, meat.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta  
Okay, so the name is weird but this is literally a cliff that ancient aboriginal tribes herded buffalo off into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Using their knowledge of the land, the Plains people hunted bison by stampeding them off of the cliff now known as Head-Smashed-In. Just northwest of Fort McLeod, the site has been continuously in use for more than 6,000 years and is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as one of the world’s largest, oldest and best-preserved buffalo jumps. 

Stoner, British Columbia
Of course British Columbia would be the province with a town named Stoner. Don’t be fooled though, apparently this town in Central B.C. is named after Stone Creek, not British Columbia’s famous bud.

Eyebrow, Saskatchewan

Eyebrow, Saskatchewan
Photo courtesy of Panaramio.com

When you hear that this village is named after an eyebrow-shaped hill above a prairie lake, it doesn’t seem so strange. But picture passing a sign that says “Welcome to Eyebrow, Population 200,” or someone saying, “I’m from Eyebrow,” and it’s weird again. A Google image search reveals some raised-eyebrow selfies in front of the village sign, so people are obviously having fun with it. Along with the Canadian trend of naming geographic locations after food or sexual innuendo, anatomical names prove to be pretty popular as well; honourable mentions go to Crotch Lake, Ontario, Jerry’s Nose, Newfoundland, Elbow, Saskatchewan, and Finger, Manitoba.

 

What other weird place names do you know?